Of prime numbers:
Of symbols:

A constellation of reduced memories
Childhood fantasmagoria in indivisible sequence
Chair :: Candlestick
Table :: Knife

I think I was circumcised on the dinner table.
My mother’s love language is food.

Words by Michael Gac Levin

I must admit there were many dinners spent in this space. We are seeing five paintings and five drawings in a room with wood-covered walls. Old Skin Horse is the title of the inaugural exhibition of Woody Gallery by Michael Gac Levin. This set of works was dictated by the room itself, loaded with memories and physical contours.

Yes, this series was a reactive process in memory of this room and of each other in their making, they were referred to as “supporting works” by Michael. Many of these pictured moments are close to us (a glimpse of a blurred dinner setting or a forgotten childhood dream), but abstracted towards something very far away. The works unite degraded and exalted feelings about what was and what is to come—absence in our current changing structures cannot be avoided when taking in what we see.

These pieces were made with saturated and warm colors redeeming the eerie lack of human presence. Something we are all familiar with now. A narrative is puzzled together as the works speak to each other and the space. There is a balance between obscurity and clarity evoked by the physical objects we recognize and their lack of context: candlesticks, chairlegs, and tabletops. These fractured moments tell a story, a story that many recognize, but cannot locate in a single moment in time.

The confident line was first initiated using a ballpoint pen within a sketchbook, in which the comfortable, familiar, and the drifting are often mapped out. Sketches are so deeply personal,  and here they are, scaled up, when trying to control moments of chaos within a stream of thought. There is an unfinished quality that takes rise when inspecting what these works entail—I was told this body of work is a study for the next—leaving our sight further fragmented and cropped. We are just left to reconstruct what is.

Words by Anna Hugo


Michael Gac Levin b. 1984, Los Angeles, CA; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

He first began making art in earnest after moving to New York in 2006, as a way to express his deepening fascination with the Hasidic enclaves of Brooklyn. In 2013 he published “Jews of Today,” a book that explores and attempts to reimagine Jewish identity through drawing. Since then, he has turned his focus to drawing itself, as an interface between internal and external worlds, subjectivity and objectivity, personal fantasy and culture. This pursuit is the basis of Old Skin Horse.

Old Skin Horse takes its name from a venerable character in The Velveteen Rabbit, whose archaic wisdom guides the protagonist to face the mystery of his own existence. Old Skin Horse began as a sketchbook project in the Spring of 2018, following the first birthday of Michael’s first child. After several years both cultivating and interrogating a drawing style based on fastidiously copying photographs, a new body of work began to blossom on the margins. Inspired by his daughter’s creativity, nascent but profound, Michael embraced an alternate method of image-making based on repetition and mutation, guided as much as possible by the wisdom of the unconscious. Old Skin Horse has since come to embrace large-scale drawing, sculpture, and gouache and acrylic painting.

Michael has completed special projects online for the Jewish Museum and SCREEN_. His work has been featured at the International Print Center of New York, at Tiger Strikes Asteroid NY, Home & Artists, Collar Works and at Torrance Shipman Gallery. He holds a BA in Classics from the University of Chicago (‘06) and an MFA in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute (‘15), where he currently teaches.

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Anna Hugo b. 1991 in Vienna, Austria; lives and works between New York and Vienna as a curator, artist, and publisher.

She is currently working at the new non-profit exhibition platform KUNSTVEREIN GARTENHAUS and is launching her independent publication house for artist-made books in conjunction with her painting practice.

Hugo has been dedicated to finding new testing grounds for exhibition-making including swimming pools in the Hamptons, hotel rooms in North Korea, and abandoned Fed-Ex shops in NY. She has collaborated with Coustof Waxman, Despacio (CR), Debris Projects (NY), Home & Artists (NY), KG Contemporary Art Collection (IA), HugoPenje (DE), and Random Institute (CH).

Hugo holds an MFA degree in Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Applied Arts Vienna (2013) and an MA in Critical Theory and the Arts from the School of Visual Arts New York (2017).

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